Adventure's Gold Coast

Hiking King Peak

Aug 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

BEHOLD THE KING RANGE from the tiny clifftop town of Shelter Cove in the middle of the Lost Coast, 20 miles north of Usal as the gull flies, and you understand why Highway 1 gave up any notion of proceeding through here. The jagged range rises 2,000 feet to the north above the surf within the first mile. Above it all is 4,087-foot King Peak. On the eve of my King Peak climb I relocated to Shelter Cove where I found a room with a pilothouse view of the entire Lost Coast. My trailhead of choice was Saddle Mountain, a 10.5-mile-drive north on dirt from Shelter Cove Road. Much of the 5.5-mile King Crest Trail disappears into forests of tan oak, madrona, and Douglas fir. Still, after dropping 700 feet, it follows a ridgeline on a gradual 2,300-foot climb and serves up a peak at the summit's vista grande. After a final steep push to the top I could see clear over to the snowy Trinity Alps, 90 miles to the northeast, Punta Gorda; ten miles to the northwest; and Point Arena, 100 miles to the south. What I didn't see was another soul. I made the round-trip in five hours. For more information, call the BLM at 707-986-5400. Doubles at Shelter Cove Motor Inn start at $85 per night; call 888-570-9676.

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